A temperature-controlled vaccine cooler that YOU can build

A temperature-controlled vaccine cooler that YOU can build

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Open source maker project

This free-to-download book contains instructions for creating a temperature controlled cooler capable of chilling vaccine, insulin, or blood for 7-10 days without any external power source.


Keeping cool saves lives

In the developing world, vaccines are the front line of defense against dangerous illnesses such as Ebola, Influenza, Cholera, Tuberculosis and Dengue to name a few. Transporting vaccines and other life-saving materials such as insulin and blood require careful temperature control.


First-world logistics tend to break down when supplies are transported into regions with limited resources. Many rural medical clinics lack the funding or the energy for ordinary refrigeration systems.

Insulin, human blood, and many common vaccines must be kept in the temperature range of 2-8 ˚C. In the field, this can be difficult to maintain because electric refrigeration requires too much power, and passive ice coolers lack thermostat control.


Arduino to the rescue

This project combines the compact cooling power of dry-ice (solid carbon dioxide) with the precision of digital temperature control. When used by itself, dry ice too cold to transport vaccine, insulin or blood because it can easily lead to freezing. This project’s cooler design solves the problem of freezing by placing the dry ice in a separate chamber below the cargo cooler. A brushless PC fan is used to circulate small doses of super-chilled air through the cargo section as needed. This fan is controlled by a robust Arduino microcontroller, running a temperature control loop. Because the Arduino system runs on very little electrical power, this system can be mobile like an ice chest, but temperature-regulated like a plug-in refrigerator.


Who is this project for?

This project is designed to be built by students, engineers, and aid workers in or near areas facing humanitarian challenges. The materials, parts, and supplies are generally available in most of the world’s cities in even the poorest countries. By making the plans available for free, we are providing technology with flexibility in terms of cost and scalability. The decentralized manufacture of these arduino-ice coolers may be in important option with the potential to save lives.

Finished cooler specifications:

• Cargo volume: Maximum 6.6 gallons (25L), recommended 5 gallons (19L) with buffer bottles.
• Maximum cargo volume dimensions: =~14 in x 14 in x 8 in (35.6 cm x 35.6 x 20.3 cm)
• Cooling Capacity: Maintains 5°C for 10-7 days in 20-30°C ambient environment respectively.
• Power source: Dry ice and flooded 12 volt marine cell battery.
• Over all dimensions: 24in x 24 in x 32 in tall (61 cm x 61 cm x 66.6 cm tall)
• Over all weight: 33.3 lb (15.1 Kg) empty with no ice / 63 lb (28.6kg) with full ice and cargo.
• Temperature regulation: PID control maintains 5°C +-0.5°C
• Materials: construction grade closed-cell foam and construction adhesives with IR reflective insulation jacketing.
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